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Tap water

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Somehow in yesterday's entry on water purity I managed to completely forget to mention the flip side of the coin: The Washington, D.C. Water and Sewer Authority (DCWASA) recently determined that two-thirds of the DC-area residences they tested had tap water that exceeded the EPA lead limit. Apparently there's much disagreement over how big a problem this is; dust from lead paint is apparently a much greater hazard to children's health. But the guy I heard talking about this on NPR a couple weeks ago suggested that the sudden increase in lead levels could be due to a change in how the municipal water is processed—new chemicals leaching lead out of pipes—and that other cities are adopting that processing technology as well, possibly leading to increased lead levels in a lot of places.

There are apparently filters you can buy that will filter out lead, but I'm not sure whether all tap-water filters get the lead out (as it were).

I guess the moral is that water from any source can be dangerous. (And remember that dihydrogen monoxide is itself a potentially fatal chemical!) Filters good. Now that my tap water has stopped tasting terrible (so I've been drinking it again), I probably ought to get a filter of some sort.

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Actually, if I'm not mistaken, the EPA and county health officials discovered the lead problem in DC well over a year ago and have just recently publicly disclosed it. Been something of a firestorm -- as you'd imagine -- in the area. Many DC children have elevated lead levels in their blood; this made even worse by the fact that health officials generally encourage parents to have their children drink tap water in order to get fluoride. The Washington Post has done a good job of covering the issue.


This article from the Washington Times discussed filters in the context of the DC tap water issue. Apparently Brita filters remove 98% of lead but are designed for water that has less than 150 parts per billion of lead. The DC water in many homes has more, which will make the Brita filters stop working sooner than usual. The city has given out some Brita filters and is also giving out PUR filters, which apparently cope better.

(Yes, I'm aware that the Washington Times is owned by the Moonies, but the story seems accurate and other stories agree.)

Note that Brita and PUR have donated the filters to the city. Good for them!


Drat, forgot to put in my closing tag for the link. Feel free to fix it, Jed! Thanks!

Why, yes, I am a professional web developer.


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